Scotch Whisky: On Drinking Whisky (Part 2)
There is a big difference between tasting whisky and drinking whisky. I have a confession to make, and I make it with little shame. I drink bourbon on ice because I like the effect it has. I find it soothing, cooling and calming. A world of worries can fly away in a good gulp of soft, sweet, ice-cold bourbon. Often when I desire a drink, this is my tipple of choice. I find it less bloating than a beer, more flavoursome than a vodka, less sickly than sherry or port, far more cost effective than wine (which is only worth drinking if it’s very good), and less guilt-inducing than tucking into a bottle of beautifully crafted single-malt that should be sipped and savoured. Bourbon ‘whiskey’ is a great drink and has a purpose to serve. Those of us that consume whisk(e)y and pretend we do so ‘for the flavour’ should own-up to just enjoying a good old drink once in a while. While not classifying myself as a hopeless alcoholic, I do enjoy indulging from time to time in a hearty drinking session, often accompanied with good food and rounded off with poor fiddle playing before being cured with deep sleep then eggs on toast. This, along with freshly squeezed orange juice and a cup of English Breakfast tea with full-cream milk can assault the worst a hangover has to offer. Bacon, although tempting, is far too salty, and coffee only helps to hasten the early onset of gout. The ‘hair of the dog’, unless strictly limited to a Bloody Mary, is some form of sick joke only intended to leave the suffering in even greater pain.
Above all else, whisky should be enjoyed. Its primary reason for existence is that of pleasure, although when drunk to excess this can often cause some unpleasurable sensations or lead one into unpleasurable situations. Our taste buds are extremely sensitive, and often the sheer level of alcohol in whisky can put people off, with many complaining of a burning sensation. ‘Eugh!’ is unfortunately an overused word by people trying whisky for the first time, assuming that it should be downed like a shot of Jägermeister. If ice helps make whisky more approachable, and ultimately pleasurable, then there in nothing wrong with putting ice in your whisky. Critics of the ‘rocks’ argue quite rightfully that ice closes up the more delicate flavours in whisky. On the other hand, ice can magnify the primary flavours, bringing out honeyed sweetness and peat flavours. Others choose to add water to their whisky, which again can make it more approachable and pleasurable.